People with poor physical fitness often have higher blood pressure and heart rate responses to low levels of exercise compared to people with better fitness.

For the study, published in the journal Neurology, 1,583 people were enrolled with an average age of 40 without dementia or heart disease and took a treadmill test.

The results showed that those who performed poorly on the treadmill test had brain volume smaller two decades later -- equivalent to two years of accelerated brain ageing.

When the people with heart disease or those taking beta blockers were excluded, lower physical performance was associated with reductions of brain volume equal to one year of accelerated brain ageing, the researchers noted.

The study also showed that people whose blood pressure and heart rate went up at a higher rate during exercise were more likely to have smaller brain volumes two decades later.


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